#16 Rice Baseball 2015 Preview

Rice Owls

Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #1 Conference USA
#16 Rice Baseball 2015 Preview
Rice Team Page


Rice battled its way through a typical tough schedule and once again earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament as a Regional host at Reckling Park. The Owls had an unfortunate premature end to the 2014 season, going 1-2 during the regional and having no luck slowing down Texas A&M and Texas offensively. With the last College World Series for Rice taking place in 2008, it will be interesting to see if they can fight their way back to Omaha in 2015.

2014: 42-20, 23-7
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Wayne Graham

Field Players:
The Owls have some work to do offensively to replace the loss of players such as Keenan Cook, Skyler Ewing, Shane Hoelscher and Michael Aquino. This quartet combined for 16 homeruns and 151 runs batted in last season. Catcher John Clay Reeves returns this season and he will be the leader of the Rice offensive attack. Reeves hit .317 with six homeruns. The ability to boost those power numbers a little bit this season will be critical for Reeves and the Owls offense if they are make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

Pitching is never an issue for the Rice program on a consistent basis. They can pitch with anyone in the country on a given day. The 2015 season will not be any different as Blake Fox returns to anchor the weekend rotation. Fox was 12-0 with a 1.46 earned run average and was very dominant all season long. The ability to get after hitters and throw strikes is a big asset for Fox and opponents hit just. 236 against him a year ago. Matt Ditman will be clutch once again at the back end of games. He had nine saves and struck out 77 batters in 68.2 innings pitched.

Who to Watch:
Infielder Ford Stainback is going to be a player to watch as the Owls will need his senior leadership in the field and in the batting lineup to stabilize things offensively while the rest of the lineup comes together. Stainback hit .258 and drove in 28 runs in 2014. Infielder Connor Tekyl is another key to the Rice lineup and he drove in 29 runs last season and only committed two errors.

Final Projection:
Rice will have to hit the ground running as they will battle former Southwest Conference rival Texas to open the season at Reckling Park for a four game series. A trip to Tucson to play Arizona is on deck after that for the Owls and then the following weekend Stanford pays a visit to Reckling Park for another four game series. This early season gauntlet will be the best opportunity for Rice to truly make a significant statement nationally to see if they are a College World Series contender or not. There will be a midweek contests against rival Texas A&M as well as the season goes along with a showdown against College World Series participant TCU down in Fort Worth on March 3rd. A four game road swing starting on March 17th across town against the University of Houston, followed by a trip to Norfolk to play Old Dominion will be a great test as well to see how Rice fares on the road in two pretty tough environments. Bottom line, the pitching should keep the Owls in just about every game this season no matter who the opponent is. The key is going to be consistently generating enough offense at key times to take the pressure off of the pitching staff in the event they have an off day. The Owls should be a regional host again with a shot to at least to get to a Super Regional in 2015.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Ford Stainbeck, IF, 236
Hits: John Clay Reeves, C, 70
Home Runs: John Clay Reeves, C, 6
RBIs: John Clay Reeves, C, 41
Runs: John Clay Reeves, C, 32
Stolen Bases: Leon Byrd, IF/OF, 5

Wins: Blake Fox, P, 12
Innings Pitched: Blake Fox, P, 104.2
Strikeouts: Matt Ditman, P, 77
Saves: Matt Ditman, P, 9


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